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Special counsel proposes a trial date for Trump Jan. 6 case

Former President Donald Trump speaks before he boards his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on August 3 in Arlington, Va.
Alex Brandon
Former President Donald Trump speaks before he boards his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on August 3 in Arlington, Va.

Updated August 10, 2023 at 2:33 PM ET

Prosecutors in the office of special counsel Jack Smith are proposing that a federal judge in Washington, D.C., set a start date of Jan. 2, 2024, for former President Donald Trump's trial on charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The government lawyers estimate the case could last about four to six weeks.

"Most importantly, a January 2 trial date would vindicate the public's strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens' legitimate votes," they wrote in a new filing.

The former president, who is the front runner for the GOP nomination in 2024, has been suggesting he wants to delay the case, perhaps until after the next election. If he regains the White House, Trump could instruct his attorney general to drop the case, or even seek to pardon himself. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

Prosecutors said in a new court filing that there's no need for such a lengthy delay. They are ready to begin turning over witness interviews, grand jury transcripts, and evidence obtained through search warrants and already have organized those papers in an easy-to-read format, wrote prosecutor Molly Gaston.

Both sides are due in court in Washington, D.C. on Friday to argue over the terms of a protective order, that could prevent Trump from sharing certain kinds of sensitive information on social media and elsewhere in advance of the trial.

Trump's attorneys are scheduled to respond to the proposal in writing in the coming days.

The decision ultimately will be up to Judge Tanya Chutkan in D.C.

Trump already has a busy legal calendar for 2024. He's set to face trial in Manhattan on charges related to hush money payments to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in March 2024, and to go to trial in Florida in May 2024 on charges that include willful retention of national defense information and obstruction, over classified papers he stored in a ballroom, bathroom and storage area at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg recently told The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC he would be amenable to moving the New York trial, so long as the judge there agrees.

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Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.